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RHuff

Question on bigger lakes

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Most of my lakes here in southern WV are under 2,000 acres. I would like to fish a more prominant lake or two this summer such as Kentucky Lake, Dale Hollow, Lake Chikamauga, Lake Murray, or even possibly Lake Okeechobee. I own a 17ft Triton VT Tournament Sport with a 50HP Motor. Is my boat sufficient for any of those lakes? It’s perfect for me and my local/regional lakes but I wanna “fish better water” as Mr. Hackney recommended to us recently in Bassmaster Online lol

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I fish Toledo Bend out of a 16' 52" bottom Alweld with a 40 HP 

 

Now with that said I have close to 50 yrs experience on that lake, I simply launch close to where I plan on fishing, & stay off the main lake in winds in excess of 15 mph.

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I  used to fish the windy Kansas reservoirs with a 16 ft mod v boat and a 50 hp motor. I always watched the weather forecast. I have been in some pretty nasty water with that boat. You just have to take your time

If you go out on the big lakes more than likely there will be a lot of boats similar to yours. they just get off of the lake when water gets rough.

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I’m March I’m fishing Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship on Kentucky Lake out of a kayak. 13.5 ft x 35 inches human powered. Did the same thing year at the KBS Classic on Guntersville. You need to understand the limitations of your equipment and your boat will be just fine.

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I forgot to add the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to the list I can be there in around 4 hrs..

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Here is a picture of the Lowe bassboat I rigged up originally to fish a HP restricted lake in PA. It is 17 1/2 foot long and had a power trim plate and a 25 Merc on it. Lowe made a wide hull and that adds to its stability. We have fished Lake Anna in VA, several PA lakes and the Susqy with this setup, as well as both Center Hill and Dale Hollow( both are large 60 mile long lakes in TN). The boat did fine in all those cases. However, I would tell you to be careful on the Upper Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac rivers. The fishing I do now is on the same boat, but I repowered with a 75hp Merc for speed and safety.  These tidal rivers are BIG water and have BIG recreational boats, as well as some commercial ships on them. You can certainly fish the Potomac with your boat, especially if you decide to launch on one river like the Mattawoman and run around it and perhaps cross over to the VA side and fish the nearby rivers. I would not make the long run to DC from there in that boat for safety reasons. We chose a section of the river and launch accordingly. If you launched in say the North East river and sneak out to the flats you will be fine ( Upper Chesapeake Bay).  Just be aware of the wakes the larger vessels will produce.

I was once on the Susqy Flats and nearly got in trouble. I was crossing over to the Sassafras river and two 60 foot+ yachts entered the creek just before I got there.  I did not even see them. I had to turn and run fast because they left two 4 foot tall wakes that were barreling down on me from each side.  I was in a 20 foot bassboat with a 200 hp engine and I was glad it did 68 mph right about then.

Here is a pic of my boat when it still had the 25 on it ( yes it was sporting a 20 hp decal that I have no idea how it got there LOL).

Dale Hollow is amazing and so was Center Hill. If you want to chat more in depth about specifics on some of these lakes give me a pm. In the fall, you would be more than welcome to join me and chase some stripers in your boat. I live only 5 minutes from Middle River ( that is the  river Aron Martens won his BASS event on a few years ago).  The stripers come in our creeks that time of year. We chase them with rattle traps and swimbaits like Keitechs, Flukes and Reaction Innovations Dippers.

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I just reread your post. When my wife and looked at getting this boat we had looked at all the options out there and ended up choosing between the Lowe Stinger we purchased and your Triton VT 17.  It came down to which storage setup we preferred. You have a very capable boat if you learn how to handle bigger water.  I rigged my boat up with a 7 inch GPS/sonar unit  on both the front deck and the console. It help a lot to have the maps and learn to use waypoints and trails when running around on larger bodies of water.

It is funny how all of the lake can look the same after a few turn arounds and fishing all day.  If weather or daylight change you want to be confident when going back to your launch.  I also suggest you consider using a guide to learn a new lake and how the fish are patterned up at the time. I always do that, even if I only hire him for a half day.

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I've been on Lake of the Ozarks several times in my 16' aluminum with a 60hp, and my old 15' Cajun with a 50hp. I always went when it was cold so the boat traffic wasn't bad and tried not to stray too far from the launch and never had any problems. 

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15 hours ago, Alan Reed said:

 You need to understand the limitations of your equipment and your boat will be just fine.

Agreed and may I add understanding the limitations/experience of your own driving ability. Coupe of tips for driving in rough stuff. Wear a PFD. Keep the motor trimmed down. Learn how to work the throttle to keep you on top of the waves or at least be on the upward side of the crest. Try to quarter the waves, you will figure out the safest/driest way to do this with a little practice. Sometimes the safest way to the ramp is not the quickest. Aside from Florida, much of the man-made impoundments in the southeast have creeks that you can fish in while being protected from the elements.

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You should be OK having boating skills to navigate and fish the Potomac River. Big lake it's easier to tow the boat 25 miles then drive it through white caps.

Tom

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7 hours ago, WRB said:

 Big lake it's easier to tow the boat 25 miles then drive it through white caps.

Tom

This is a good point also. I always tried to launch near as possible to where I'd like to fish and if it wasn't happening there, put it on the trailer and pull it to a different launch on another part of the lake. A long run through rough water may not even be an option in a small boat. 

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You should be fine. Like everyone mentioned the smartest method to tackle big lakes is watching the weather and launching boat close to where you plan to fish to me this goes for big or small boats. To me a large lake is no different than a small lake if you plan accordingly. Sure the unexpected on large lakes can turn for the the worse quickly but if you keep your head in the game and prepare you should be fine. Just always want to keep your eye to sky for weather systems rolling in and scanning lake for big boats traveling. Pop up wakes from the big boats are no fun unless you see them in advance. I had a 10hp 16' jon boat a few times on Kentucky lake even crossed main body multiple times with it. Not going to lie and say there wasn't a pucker factor going across esp with the big boats coming down, but the ole Lowe 16'er crossed like a champ. That Triton you are running should do fine. I have had a various assortment of of fresh water fishing boats (16' jon boat, 21' bass boat, 18' bayboat and 24' pontoon) and to be honest the smaller the boat the more attentive one is of their surroundings.  I wish I would've never parted ways with the jon boat and bay boat. If you are targeting bass on Kentucky lake you should have a blast. That lake is chalked full of LM and SM. Another real fun fish to catch on that lake is bluegill and redear. There is a big group of people where I grew up that make trips to this lake every weekend from end of April to mid May targeting the gills when they are spawning. Some toad gills on that lake. 

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On 12/22/2017 at 11:02 PM, RHuff said:

I forgot to add the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to the list I can be there in around 4 hrs..

The Potomac has plenty of ramps in protected creeks...The Bay has some too, but not quite as many.  These creeks are entire fisheries themselves, as big or bigger than many normal bass lakes.  The main river/bay are not too bad if the wind isn't kicking, but like fishnkamp said you need to watch out for the mega-yacht wakes even on calm days.  Your boat will be fine...Just be smart if the winds are forecast to be 15mph or more.  

 

If you do end up coming this way, feel free to shoot me a message... I'll point you in the right direction for either place ;).

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don't worry about the boat, your the one that will be the limiting factor. trust your skills, don't go over your head and you'll be fine.

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I really appreciate the help guys!

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